Last night I watched a television news article about Syrian refugees trying to cross the Aegean Sea from Turkey to Greece. Crowded into small, inflatable boats that were already foundering as they were pushed out from shore into the waves, the men, women and children were so obviously risking their lives it was tragic to watch. As if any further evidence of their peril were required, we watched as a man dragged himself back to shore from a capsized boat further out to sea.
I am a liberal on immigration. I believe Western nations should encourage free and open immigration for any law-abiding individual that wants to come to our countries and support themselves. What surprises me is that many so-called liberals I encounter are anything but liberal on immigration issues.
If I think logically about it, the attitudes of these liberals shouldn't surprise me at all. More than anything, they want to protect their cosy, unsustainable lifestyle and they understand that the biggest risk comes from the people they purport to care about - the poor and downtrodden of other countries.
Today I was speaking with a female colleague (whom I know to be left-wing) about the news article and she confirmed my suspicions by saying she thought immigration was a threat to the 'social cohesion' here in New Zealand. Social cohesion is liberal newspeak for entrenched privilege. It is the carefully constructed, interdependent, socio-political hegemony that milks the productive to maintain the less-productive in comfort, that is maintained by a majority of the electorate continuing to hypocritically vote for their self-interest while telling themselves they are doing it out of concern for those less fortunate than themselves. It is no surprise, therefore, to see the left-wing Labour Party in blaming Chinese immigrants for rising house prices in our largest city.
Western liberals regard immigrants as charity cases - needing to be taken care of from the moment they arrive with all-encompassing social support and generous welfare benefits. But immigrants tend not to regard themselves as charity cases - they often want nothing more than the opportunity to be free to work hard to improve their lot. They are happy to start off in a new society living and working in conditions and for wages that most Western liberals would find inadequate, in order to end up in much better lives. They have no interest in maintaining the privileged positions of those in our society who are not prepared to work as hard as they are and that is why they are regarded as a threat to the so-called social cohesion.
We should give immigrants what they want - a safe harbour and the opportunity to improve themselves. They do not want anything more than that.